New Delhi: Opposing calls for cancellation of allocated coal blocks summarily in the wake of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) President Adi Godrej on Wednesday asked the government to take action against only those companies which have acquired them fraudulently.

He said that the cancellation of coal blocks, which were allocated as per due process will adversely impact business sentiment. Citing reasons like delay in environment clearances and problems related to land acquisition, law and order, he said that due to these issues many domestic companies were not able to start the coal production on time.

What the CAG report said?

Official auditor CAG in its recent report has stated that private firms made undue gains to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore on account of allocation of 57 mines to them and a part of it could have accrued to the national exchequer.  The CBI is already probing 12 firms that were granted licences in fast track mode but have not started operations.

"The law should take its own course and no precipitate action should be taken. The coal blocks which were allocated as per due process, should not be cancelled. Any such cancellation will adversely impact business sentiment," said Godrej.

However, the CII president said that any coal block allocation where it is established that due process has not been followed, ‘should be reviewed and appropriate action taken in accordance with law’.

He said that before taking any action, the government should keep in mind that almost 40 per cent of the revenue from coal mining goes to them as taxes and royalties.

"There are several issues which lead to delays in the start of production in coal blocks. These are related to environment clearances and security issues and lack of supporting infrastructure, especially in the case of blocks in remote areas," he said.

Godrej asked the government to address these gaps in a time–bound manner and also through single–window mechanism.

Possible reforms the government can make:

Talking about the economic reforms, which are needed to boost the country's economy, he said there is an urgent requirement to take steps in the areas like taxation and foreign direct investment (FDI).

"For various reasons, decision taking (process in the government) is slow. If we do not take the reform programme agenda forward and leverage on the opportunities, we might get into further difficulties in terms of rating agencies, perception and investors shying away," he added.

On the back of India's GDP slowing down to 5.5 per cent in the first quarter of this fiscal, he asked the government to immediately take steps like allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, domestic airlines; interest subsidy for small exporters; clarification on retrospective amendment in the Income Tax Act and easing land acquisition process for industry.


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